He's as wild as the desert, a barbarian prince, a revered leader. Long ago he loved a girl, but the power of their feelings almost destroyed them both. Now that woman, the only one he could ever love, is forbidden to him!
Betrothed to another, unable to bear him sons, she is unfit to be his queen.... But she can stop the storm that has raged in his heart since he last made her his.
His choice--take her as his mistress, or become the king he was born to be....
Marrying a man she didn''t love was surprisingly easy, Jasmine Kouri thought as she handed her empty champagne flute to a passing waiter. Why had she wasted so much time struggling to be alone? She should have done this a year ago.Her engagement party was in full force. All of Qusay''s high society-everyone who''d once scorned her-was now milling beneath the white pavilion on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, sipping Cristal in solid gold flutes as they toasted her engagement to the second richest man in Qusay.Her fianc? had spared no expense. Jasmine''s fifteen-carat diamond ring scattered prisms and rainbows of refracted sunlight every time she moved her left hand. It was also very heavy, and the pale green chiffon dress he''d chosen for her in Paris felt hot as her skirts swirled in the desert wind. Across the wide grassy vista, the turrets of his sprawling Italianate mansion flew red flags emblazoned with his personal crest.Then again, Umar Hajjar never spared any expense- on anything. Everything he owned, from his world-class racehorses to his homes around the world, proclaimed his money and prestige. He''d pursued Jasmine for a year in New York, and yesterday, she''d suddenly accepted his proposal. This party was Umar''s first step in making the people of Qusay forget her old scandal. He would shape Jasmine into his perfect bride, the same as he trained a promising colt into a winner: at any cost.But that wasn''t why Jasmine''s heart was pounding as she looked anxiously through the crowds in the pavilion. She didn''t care about money. She was after something far more precious.Jewel-laden socialites pressed forward to congratulate her, including some whose vicious gossip had ruined her when she was young and defenseless. But it would be bad manners to remember that now, so Jasmine just thanked them and smiled until her cheeks hurt.Then she caught her breath as she saw the people she''d been waiting for.Her family.The last time she''d seen them, Jasmine had been a scared sixteen-year-old girl, packed off into poverty and exile by her harsh, heartbroken father and quietly weeping mother. Now because of this marriage, no one would ever be able hurt Jasmine-or her family-ever again.With a joyful cry, she held her arms wide, and her grown-up sisters ran to embrace her."I''m proud of you, my daughter," her father said gruffly, patting her on the shoulder. "At last you''ve done well.""Oh, my precious child." Her mother hugged her tearfully, kissing her cheek. "It''s too long you''ve been away!"Both her parents had grown older. Her proud father was stooped, her mother gray. The sisters Jasmine remembered as skinny children were now plump matrons with husbands and children of their own. As her family embraced her, the wind blew around Jasmine''s ladylike dress, swirling around them all in waves of sea-foam chiffon.It was all worth it,she thought in a rush of emotion. To be with her family again, to be back at home and have a place in the world, she would have given up a hundred careers in New York. She would have married Umar a thousand times."I missed you all so much," Jasmine whispered. But all too soon, she was forced to pull away from her family to greet other guests. Moments later, she felt Umar''s hand on her arm.He smiled down at her. "Happy, darling?""Yes," she replied, wiping away the streaks of her earlier tears. Umar hated to see her mussed. "But some of the guests are growing impatient for dinner. Who is this special guest of yours and why is he so late?""You''ll see," he replied, leaning down to kiss her cheek. Tall and thin and in his late forties, Umar Hajjar was the type of man who wore a designer suit to his stables. His face was pale and wrinkle-free with the careful application of sunscreen; his dark gray hair was slicked back with gel. He tilted his head. "Listen."Frowning, she listened, then gradually heard a sound like thunder. She looked up, but as usual in the desert island kingdom, there were no clouds, just clear sky blendi
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
May 01, 2010
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.